FORGIVENESS can SAVE and TRANSFORM a MARRIAGE: "And it shall be, in that day," says the Lord, "that you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer call Me 'My Master'.” (Hosea 2:16)
Hosea illustrates God’s enduring desire and love for His people. The first three chapters, which is Hosea’s personal story with his unfaithful wife Gomer, symbolize God’s relationship with the unfaithful Israel. In Hosea 2:16, the names ‘Ishi’ (My Husband) and ‘Baali’ (My Master) are significant. The former is a term of affection and represents the closest loving relationship, while the latter indicates servitude and inferiority.
Just like a gentle husband making sincere attempts to restore his relationship with his wayward wife, God seeks to win Israel back by making romantic overtures and wooing her with tender words of love. God would “give her back her vineyards” (v. 15) that had been taken in judgment. Just as Hosea reclaimed his wife, so God will one day reclaim His people, renew His “marriage vows,” and restore His people to blessing. Three specific blessings will occur “in that day” (v. 16) when God restores His people:
- First, there will be a new relationship (2:16–17). The people will call God “my husband,” not “my master”, so there will be a more intimate relationship.
- Second, there will be a new covenant (2:18–20). God will institute a new covenant with His people that will bring universal peace.
- Third, there will be a new blessing (2:21–23). God’s promised blessings and fruitfulness will be poured out on the people.
Through the tragic story of Hosea and Gomer, God reveals both the depth and power (a) of His love for Israel and (b) of the marriage bond. God describes His suffering the pain and humiliation of Israel’s unfaithfulness; and in obedience to God, Hosea suffers the same pain and humiliation of his own wife’s unfaithfulness. But God shows him how the marriage can be saved: through suffering and forgiveness.
This is one of the most profound revelations about marriage found anywhere in Scripture. Successful marriage is not a relationship of perfect people living perfectly by perfect principles. Rather, marriage is a state in which very imperfect people often hurt and humiliate one another, yet find the grace to extend forgiveness to one another, and so allow the redemptive power of God to transform their marriage. Remember, forgiveness can save and transform a marriage!
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph 4:31-32)